Two stones in Texas: Believing in Him

Ministry Testimonials, Teaching Resources

Jesus is presented as a paradox in 1 Peter 2:6-8 NASB:

For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A precious CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” [7] This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS rejected, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” [8] and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

The first, most important characteristic of who He is revolves around the certainty and strength that can be expected to permeate and characterize the life of a person or persons who are basing decisions and perspectives on what He says is true.  Believing in Him, very often, means deliberately shrugging off feelings, circumstances, other’s opinions, personal desires, etc.,  WHEN they contradict what He is saying.  The long list of Biblical Heroes in Hebrews 11 were introduced with these verses:

Hebrews 11:1-3 NASB95

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. [2] For by it the men of old gained approval. [3] By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

While it is challenging in the moment to be led by things not seen with our natural eyes, when we put something to the test of His approval, and follow His lead, it works well.  When this is a consistent pattern, our lives overall become bright, shining lights that encourage others to a deeper walk of faith (see the rest of Hebrews 11).

Pastor Toby and Susie Ratcliff of Cornerstone Church in Cleveland, TX

Correction, Love and The fear of man

Let’s emphasize that to Believe in Him is a choice that presents itself in many aspects of the Christian Walk.  On a near daily basis, we are presented with personal opportunities to follow The Holy Spirit’s leading where only ourselves and God know what is happening.  But what about when you are in a situation where you are led to either share or receive something corrective or difficult for a person to hear?  Listen to Jesus in Matthew 16:21-23 NASB95:

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. [22] Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” [23] But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

What if the situation presents itself in a public context where not only the person receiving a difficult message hears the rebuke, but also others around him or her?  Look at the example of Jesus in Matthew 23:27-28 NASB95:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. [28] So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

In both of these examples, Jesus was quite sharp with his words, and in the case of the Pharisees, the rebuke was very public in nature.  While it is definitely the exception rather than the rule, Jesus was led to be tough and corrective in a public setting at times.  He also knew that to be obedient to this type of call would draw fire, especially from those under the influence of the spirit affecting the Pharisees (see Matt 16:21 above).  Peter could have gotten upset and withdrawn but He didn’t.  His boldness was clearly evident and of supreme importance as the early church was formed.  The Pharisees got mad and we all know how that worked out for them.

One reason it is hard for people to trust God in a situation involving rebuke is that there is a fundamental misunderstanding in Christianity that correction opposes the love of God.

Hebrews 12:5-10 NASB95 says,

and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR faint WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; [6] For THOSE whom THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” [7] It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? [8] But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. [9] Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? [10] For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

To be corrected, is to be loved and cherished by God as a son.  Because emotions can be high and have a tendency to lead us in these situations, when God calls us to issue a rebuke or we find ourselves in a situation where one is given to us, it is paramount that we pray about it and weigh it out with God.  Don’t waste the chance to repent and change when God speaks to you about an issue that might make you mad when you initially hear what He is saying.

Another reason it is challenging to give or receive a challenging word is fear of the reaction or perception of others.  Two scriptures here:

Galatians 1:10 NASB95

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Proverbs 29:25 NASB95

The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.

The exhortation from Proverbs can apply to anything from having a personal decision swayed away from the direction of The Holy Spirit to catering to the crowd in a ministry context.  Paul’s exhortation on the other hand is much more specific concerning not compromising the speaking of God’s message. 

An observation on maturity

Our recent ministry trip in Texas mirrored many of the themes discussed above.  Though the overwhelming majority of words, teaching messages and personal discussions were positive, there were a handful of rebukes.  In several instances there was a hyper sensitivity that was surprising to begin with and alarming upon further examination.  It turned out to be patterned behavior from a few individuals who couldn’t stand even the mildest correction with anyone present.  It was a good test of whether or not we would continue to believe and trust in what we felt God was telling us.  It is great to report that, by His Grace, our most fruitful ministry came after the conflict.

I do remain concerned about the people who were upset and about anyone who is able to be manipulated away from God’s direction by a corrective word or the fear of reprisal for giving one.  Being in a position like that reflects an immature place, a lack of willingness to grow or both! A last scripture that gives The Lord’s perspective on this subject:

Proverbs 25:12 NASB95

Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise reprover to a listening ear.

It is an invaluable part of God’s plan for all Christians to partake in a corrective process at times.  Trust in Him through it and you won’t be disappointed!

Comments 1

  1. An important word and lesson to be very aware of. May God grant that we as believers are prayerfully open and receptive to rebuke when it is directed at us, and not to take offense. May I go and sort it out with the Lord, however painful it may be.

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